Last Updated: September 9, 2021
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs is pushing for a ban on VPN services in India. It labeled the technology as a source of cyber threats that makes it too easy for “criminals to remain anonymous online.”
VPNs are popular around the world, but their legality differs from region to region. They’re widely available and legal to use in the US. China and Russia, on the other hand, heavily restrict their usage.
As reported by MediaNama, the Committee recommends permanently banning VPN services. In its statement, it referred to the service as posing a “technical challenge” alongside the Dark Web in allowing criminals to remain anonymous online.
Privacy, Piracy, Proxies, Prevention
The Committee places emphasis on the illegal activities that VPNs can cover. However, people use them for a number of legitimate reasons, ranging from mundane to such of extreme importance.
As VPNs slowly became mainstream over the past few years, many users simply want to access region-blocked streaming content. Others utilize their privacy features, deflecting the watching eyes of data-hungry marketers, government, and hackers.
Shifting to the illegal, some use them for piracy, while others commit cybercrime. All the same, VPNs can also be used to prevent cybercrime.
In India, many companies use VPNs to protect their online assets from hackers by routing their activity through secure tunnels. This technology offers protection far superior to that of an average antivirus by ensuring complete coverage.
The lack of nuance in the Committee’s demands draws scrutiny. Recently, the Indian government has been pushing WhatsApp to break end-to-end encryption.
The erasure of privacy may go towards clamping down on cybercrime, but it comes at the cost of increasing the potential for abuse and lowered personal security.
VPNs are a lifeline for activists and dissidents living in oppressive regions.
Moves like the one called for by the Committee threaten free speech.
It’s expected that the government will consider all factors closely in consultation with concerned parties before making a decision.